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Rock & Roll Circus Promoters Respond to Allegations of a 'Riot'

Producers say event at NYC's Lincoln Center was violent, but didn't get out of hand

January 5, 2011 7:00 PM ET
A concert goer takes part of Japanther's drum kit during the Rock 'N Roll Circus at Lincoln Center, New York City, January 3, 2011.
A concert goer takes part of Japanther's drum kit during the Rock 'N Roll Circus at Lincoln Center, New York City, January 3, 2011.
J.B Nicholas / Splash News

The producers of a punk rock show at New York's  Lincoln Center — inspired by Mick Jagger's 1968 Rock & Roll Circus — insist that a violent incident at the show Monday night was not a riot, as reported by several media outlets and blogs.

The Rock & Roll Circus, a two-night festival at Lincoln Center featuring the Big Apple Circus and performances by artists such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner and Ariel Pink, was derailed on its opening night when security cracked down on rowdy fans during a set by the punk band Japanther.

But show co-producer Adarsha Benjamin told Rolling Stone that the festival – "an experiment in curating," as she put it – got out of hand, but not in a way that's unusual for a rock show.

"A mosh pit started. It's a Japanther show. They're kids, they get crazy," she said. "The security didn't deal with it, and they got really aggressive. They called it a riot, but it really wasn't a riot, it was a mosh pit. It was punk rock and people don't know how to handle it."

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Justine Gaver, another one of the show's producers, explained that security were mostly concerned about audience members entering the circus ring. "The ring is built on sand and gravel, and the Big Apple Circus security crew were concerned about its stability," she said.

Photos: Random Notes

Jessica Resler, also a co-producer, credited the security at Lincoln Center for putting the situation under control quickly but told Rolling Stone "the security there had not been put in that situation before and were not prepared for fans looking to fight. A few out-of-control people ruined it for everyone."

Nonetheless, Resler says she and her fellow producers feel that the event was a success, and are in talks with the Big Apple Circus to put on another similar event in the near future.

"We're psyched about it," Resler said. "We have no bad feelings towards anyone at Lincoln Center, or the fans."

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